Introduction — June 28, 2018
The war in Syria is as much about propaganda as it is about military conflict. Ever since the start of the conflict in 2012 there have been claims and counter-claims, often entirely unsubstantiated, about atrocities and civilian deaths.
Many of the reports linking civilian deaths with Russian, Iranian or Syrian government forces have come from one source: the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Despite its name the SOHR is a one-man operation based in Coventry, England.
By his own admission Syrian born Rami Abdulrahman, the SOHR’s director and sole employee, admits that he has not set foot in his native Syria in nearly 20 years.
Nonetheless, he regularly issues news reports that are picked up and widely distributed throughout the corporate media. Below is the latest example. Like other SOHR reports it claims civilian deaths caused in this case by Russian warplanes.
Like other SOHR reports it also remains entirely uncorroborated; as it paints the Syrian government and their allies in a negative light and their opponents in a more neutral manner.
So it is no surprise to discover that the SOHR was funded by the British Foreign Office to the tune of nearly £200,000. As such the SOHR serves as little more that a propaganda mouthpiece for Western foreign policy in Syria.
The thing about SOHR reports is that they are quoted by numerous media outlets and this creates the illusion that they are being corroborated by multiple sources.
For example the Associated Press reporting on the air strike claimed “activists” reported civilian deaths in “south western Syria”, although it didn’t specify the SOHR as the source. Likewise the Telegraph also reported on the air strike with claims that as many as 46 civilians were killed. As did the Epoch Times, which claimed Syrian air strikes “close three hospitals”.
This all adds to the illusion that multiple journalists are reporting on the same incident. When in fact the information in these reports largely originates from one man, paid by the British government, writing thousands of miles from Syria in Coventry, England.
Readers will also note that the other source claiming civilian deaths in the BBC report below is the Syrian White Helmets.
Founded by James Le Mesurier, a former British Army officer and mercenary, the White Helmets gained notoriety for their part in staging chemical weapons attacks, which are invariably blamed on Syrian government forces. Just like the SOHR consistantly blames Syrian government forces, or their allies, for civilian deaths.
The Syrian White Helmets are also officially funded by the U.S. State Department.
However, their notoriety is such that Russia’s Foreign Minister has openly accused the White Helmets, supported by Britain, of having staged the Douma attack in April.
We reserve judgement on whether a Russian air strike has actually killed civilians, as the BBC claims below. Or whether, as with so many other reports from the SOHR these claims will remain unsubstantiated and eventually be forgotten. Ed.
Syria war: Air strike on Deraa shelter kills 17 civilians
BBC Online — June 28, 2018
At least 17 civilians have been killed in an air strike on a basement shelter in south-western Syria, activists say, as warplanes pound rebel-held areas.
A monitoring group reported that five children were among those who died when aircraft identified as Russian bombed Musayfira, east of the city of Deraa.
Russia is backing an army offensive in the region, which borders Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
More than 90 civilians are said to have been killed since it began 11 days ago.
The provinces of Deraa and Quneitra had been relatively calm for almost a year because of a “de-escalation” agreement brokered by the US and Jordan, which support the opposition, and Russia, a key ally of the government.
However, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad set his sights on retaking them after defeating rebels in the Eastern Ghouta region outside Damascus in April.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Musayfira was targeted by at least 35 Russian air strikes on Thursday, and that one hit a basement where civilians were taking shelter.
The UK-based monitoring group said 17 people were killed in the attack. But local activists and the Syrian opposition’s chief negotiator, Nasr al-Hariri, put the death toll at more than 20.
Air strikes in the towns of Nawa, Dael and Kharaba left another six people dead, according to the Syria Civil Defence, whose rescue workers are widely known as the White Helmets.